Boston - If benefit managers are to truly control the significant cost from employees missing work, they need a single approach to managing disability and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) programs. That's because disability claims cause 55% of employee absences and FMLA drives another 25%, according to the JHA/EBN 2005 Absence Management Survey. The survey also uncovered the high cost of employees being away from work: an employer pays $260.00, on average, each day someone misses work.To give benefit managers the single solution needed to better control those costs, Liberty Mutual recently enhanced a key claims management system. Liberty SystemOne.nxt now offers benefit managers one source for managing both disability claims and FMLA time, simplifying the complex compliance maze and making it easier to strengthen these programs.

"Joining our two previously separate systems--one for disability and another for FMLA--into a single tool gives employers greater control over these programs," notes Wayne Evans, manager of centralized claim and leave operations for Liberty Mutual's group market business unit. "And while our earlier approach was effective, nothing beats running both programs through the same system."

Why? Because a single system:

  • Manages an employee's total time away from work: FMLA allows individuals to miss up to 12 unpaid weeks each year. And the single claims system makes it easier for an employer to count the time an employee is on disability against FMLA. So, if an employee is out four weeks on disability, that person is limited to an additional eight weeks of FMLA that year. Without jointly managing the two programs, that same employee could miss a total of 16 weeks: four on disability and 12 more for FMLA.
  • Speeds an employee's return to work: The single system brings claims management--long critical to managing disability length and cost--to FMLA. The system automatically routes each claim to the person best suited to speed the employee's return to work.
  • Simplifies compliance: The federal FMLA program is a complex maze of regulations. And many states have their own detailed FMLA programs. Because of this complexity, employers paid almost $2 million in fines last year to the Department of Labor for FMLA violations. Managing both programs through a single system can help because it is based on current federal and state rules, and is updated to reflect new developments and key rulings.
  • Spots trends and ways to tighten the programs. Consolidated reports track both disability claims and FMLA time, giving benefit managers the information needed to adjust these programs to better manage their costs.

As an added benefit, the new system is designed to help with another hot spot for benefit managers: employee satisfaction with the programs. It does this by making it easier for employees to file for FMLA time and check the status of their application. Two of Liberty Mutual's Web sites for servicing disability and cover FMLA.
"It's all about control and convenience," notes Evans. "Building a claims system that manages both disability and FMLA helps employers better manage these costs and simplify how employees file claims."

Source: Liberty Mutual Group

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